Walking the tightrope, suspended at dizzying heights above the depths, trying desperately not to fall yet again, is exhausting. I feel I could sleep for weeks and yet once the lights are out and the covers drawn up, the eyes widen and then the time that should be relaxing, that dreamy time between wakefulness and sleep, becomes a battleground. A battle to clamp eyes shut. A battle to keep the mind focussed on the audiobook that at night time replaces the day time distractions of perpetual radio and TV. A battle to find a comfortable position because suddenly everything is hypersensitive – an aching neck, an itchy foot, an ill-positioned arm. A battle to stay calm and keep the negative thoughts at bay.
These days, sleep will come eventually most nights although, no matter how tired I am, it will take a while – several hours sometimes – and I will wake frequently. I have a routine now when this happens, I’m well-practised. I open my tablet and rewind the audiobook to the last point I remember listening. Sometimes this takes a couple of goes. Then I close my eyes and listen, trying not to focus on whether I go back to sleep or not. Sometimes sleep comes quickly these days (the audiobooks really do work) but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, I can stay calm and listen and not worry. Most times, I’ll take the chance to check Facebook, read the news, play a quick game. Occasionally, I accept defeat and get up. Read or watch TV for an hour or so and try again. Thankfully, those nights are fewer recently. But I wake 4 or 5 times on average and this interrupted sleep contributes to the exhaustion as much as it relieves it. Dreams are rare when they used to be vibrant and frequent and fantastically odd. I miss them.
But right now, I’m worn out. Yawning and longing for bed. To give in and try for an early night or to hold out an hope that utter exhaustion will lead to a quick drop into oblivion? These days I’m not sure there’s a right answer.